Treatment and Prevention of Stroke
Stroke treatment includes a set of emergency measures, and prolonged recovery period (rehabilitation) carried out in phases. Once the diagnostic examination is finished, doctor chooses a rational therapeutic approach. In patients after stroke the main objective is to prevent the progression of the further brain damage. Providing the stroke is caused by the disturbance of the brain blood supply (Ischemic Stroke), the treatment may involve:
- Tissue plasminogen activator – this drug is used to ‘dissolve’ blood clot. It is effective if used not later than 3 hours after ischemic stroke occurred. The treatment approach based on the use of this preparation is called Thrombolysis;
- Drugs that prevent blood from clotting, including anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents;
- Surgical intervention to restore the lumen of the narrowed carotid artery (carotid endarterectomy).
If the stroke is caused by a hemorrhage (Hemorrhagic Stroke), then the treatment may include:
- Drugs that restore normal blood clotting;
- Surgical intervention to remove the effused blood or to reduce brain compression;
- Surgical intervention to restore the integrity of the damaged vessel;
- Blockade of the bleeding vessel by inserting unique coils into it (endovascular embolization);
- Drugs that prevent or remove brain edema (swelling of the brain);
- Placing a special tube into the brain ventricle (a cavity in the brain) to drain excess fluid and reduce intracranial pressure.
Recovery and rehabilitation
Once primary measures are taken, the treatment of stroke is aimed at helping the patient restore his strength, functions and return to independent living. The effect depends on what part of the brain has been damaged and the extent of the damages. If the right part of the brain is affected, then it may influence the movements and sensations of the left side of the body. The damage caused to the left part of the brain can affect the movements of the right side of the patient’s body as well as cause speech disorders. Patients that have suffered a stroke may have problems with breathing, swallowing, balancing and hearing. Loss of vision, intestinal and urinary bladder dysfunction are also possible.
Those who have experienced a stroke need individualized rehabilitation treatment. A doctor can help choose a program, taking into consideration the patient’s age, overall health and degree of disability. Lifestyle, interests and priorities, as well as the family of the patient, should be also taken into account. Rehab programs may start before the patient is discharged from the hospital, and continue in hospital rehabilitation departments, free-standing rehabilitation centers or health resorts or at home. The quality of recovery from stroke varies in different people.
Prevention of a Cerebral Circulation Disorder is based on the factors which lead to the condition:
- Preventing the development and progression of Atherosclerosis It is important to maintain a healthy diet, control blood cholesterol levels, and use anti-cholesterol drugs (only if administered by a doctor) provided that lipid storage disease is diagnosed;
- Regular physical activity - plays a prominent role in the prevention of obesity, non-insulin dependent diabetes and hypertension;
- Giving up smoking. Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and Atherosclerosis, which most commonly lead to strokes;
- Monitoring, prevention and treatment of such conditions as hypertension diabetes, and blood diseases leading to the formation of blood clots;
- Coping with stress. Stress raises the risk of stroke by several-fold.